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Towards Unified Data Security Requirements for Human Research Susan Bouregy, Ph.D., CIP Chief HIPAA Privacy Officer Vice Chair, Human Subjects Committee.

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Presentation on theme: "Towards Unified Data Security Requirements for Human Research Susan Bouregy, Ph.D., CIP Chief HIPAA Privacy Officer Vice Chair, Human Subjects Committee."— Presentation transcript:

1 Towards Unified Data Security Requirements for Human Research Susan Bouregy, Ph.D., CIP Chief HIPAA Privacy Officer Vice Chair, Human Subjects Committee Yale University March 21, 2013

2 Social Science, Behavioral and Educational Research at Yale Approximately 600 active protocols Broad range of studies –Cognitive development in children –The role of faith for individuals in conflict zones –Randomized trials of economic interventions in developing countries –Video ethnographies of marginalized communities

3 Yale as a HIPAA Covered Entity Hybrid Entity –Faculty practice, health care clinic, self-insured health plan –20,000 faculty, staff, students, etc are required to comply Research conducted by faculty, staff and students in the covered entity are required to comply. Research conducted by faculty, staff and students outside the covered entity only deal with HIPAA when attempting to access health information from a covered entity. Most SBE projects are conducted outside the HIPAA covered entity.

4 Section V. Strengthening Data Protections to Minimize Informational Risks Harmonizing concept of individually identifiable Require data security protections indexed to identifiability Use HIPAA security and breach notification standards as model for protection scheme

5 Informational Risk What could happen if participant’s spouse, parent, boss, friends, police department, found out what he/she said? Potential for deductive disclosure Context dependent Population dependent

6 Proposed Changes Adopt the HIPAA standards for purposes of the Common Rule regarding what constitutes individually identifiable information, a limited data set, de- identified information.

7 Definitions HIPAA: individually identifiable health information: identifies the individual or with respect to which there is a reasonable basis to believe the information can be used to identify the individual CR: individually identifiable private information: the identity of the subject is or may readily be ascertained by the investigator or associated with the information

8 De-identification HIPAA: –Strip 18 defined identifiers –Statistical determination of very small risk of re- identification CR: –Undefined

9 Impacted Data Sets Household surveys or ethnographic interviews that include zip codes of the respondents Cognitive development data including dates of birth Epidemiological data set including date of vaccination Linguistic studies of endangered languages with limited numbers of speakers identified by country Data security requirements would apply Could not be deemed exempt

10 Issues No single accepted term in the literature Currently confusion on the part of IRBs and investigators regarding de-identified vs anonymous More information would be considered identifiable under HIPAA definition Focus on “individually identifiable” ignores community risks

11 Proposed Changes Mandate data security and information protection standards that would apply to all research that collected, stored, analyzed or otherwise reused identifiable or potentially identifiable information. Data security and information protection standards would be scaled appropriately to the level of identifiability of the data.

12 Key HIPAA Security Elements Encryption of data at rest (laptops, desktops, thumbdrives, smart phones etc.) –Export control issues in some locations Secure transmission of data ( encryption, secure file transfer) –Not user friendly Strong physical security –Can be practical issues in remote field locations Access controls and logging –Cloud storage issues

13 Issues Suitability of IRB for determinations of appropriate data security plan Proposed rule applies standards to all data including that from “excused” research and would apply to all institutions that have some federal funding Not all identified data is risky Not all studies promise confidentiality Some participants request attribution Costly

14 Identifiability vs. Sensitivity Identified interviews with current or former combatants regarding actions in local communities Identified data on participation in local elections in the US Identified data on participation in elections in emerging democracies

15 Recommend Guidance for IRBs and PIs IRB best suited for determining risk of harm PI best suited for determining what is manageable in the field. Provide guidance on solutions for low, medium and high risk data

16 Proposed Incorporation of HIPAA Breach Notification Requirement Breach: the acquisition, access, use, or disclosure of PHI in a manner not permitted under subpart E of this part which compromises the security or privacy of the PHI Presumed to be a breach unless the covered entity demonstrates that there is a low probability that the protected health information has been compromised based on a risk assessment

17 IRB Adverse Event and Unanticipated Problem Reporting Data breaches qualify as AE/UAPIRSO Consideration of notice to participants as part of risk mitigation strategy Common considerations: –Extent of possible harm –Ability to further mitigate harm based on awareness –Autonomy considerations

18 Issues HIPAA breach standards are more stringent, require reporting more incidents Costs of investigation and notice Incident fatigue Utility of providing awareness of events for which there is no preventative action that can be taken Utility of providing information transnationally when the risk is local/contextual Providing notice in studies conducted under a waiver of consent Harm arising from notice itself based on association with the study.

19 Conclusions Applaud an effort to harmonize terminology around identifiability of data Applaud an effort to provide a mechanism for IRBs to minimize informational risks Informational risks are not sufficiently correlated to identifiability alone to allow indexing data security needs to presence of identifiers The costs of data security and breach notification requirements must be justified by the anticipated risks to the data and benefit of the notice The diversity of SBE research requires that the risk mitigation strategy be flexible


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